In a world plagued by constant diet fads and new foods deemed “unhealthy” by the latest Facebook campaign, it can be difficult to know what you can and should eat. Now, to make it even more complicated, the world of mental health has been voicing its own studies on how your nutrition can be affecting your mental state. But the overwhelming majority of studies agree on one thing: it absolutely does.
In an article written by Amber Petty, the connection between gut health and depression is analyzed. The brain and the gut are connected by a “bi-directional pathway called the gut-brain axis”, so it would stand to reason that a change to your gut’s biochemistry would affect your brain.
The recommendation given in the article is to change your dietary habits, to make sure that your gut, and by connection your brain, is in its healthiest state. In fact, studies such as the SMILES Trial by BMC Medicine have found that a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and increased intakes of fish and whole grains can actually have an impact on depression! In fact, your intestines are primary producers of serotonin, which literally means a happy gut, makes a happy you!
As claims such as this are spring up all over the web, the most important thing to take away is this:
A diet filled with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can significantly affect how your body feels. This can change the very chemistry of your brain, and help to reduce depression, anxiety, and even stress related disorders.
It is important to recognize that food deserts, financial constraints, and emotional barriers exist. As an emotional eater myself, I recognize how hard it can be to choose the healthier option in times of crisis or a particularly hard day. But MyMind therapist Anna Nanuka states, “In the longer term, using eating as an emotion regulating strategy can lead not only to health and weight difficulties (digestion problem, feeling bloated, noxious or even vomiting) but also can be linked to less social support, more symptoms of depression, lower self-esteem, less life satisfaction, and lower overall well-being.”
IT IS OKAY.
Please remember that it is okay to choose what makes you happy. Having a chocolate bar at the end of a long day, or a good meal with your family or friends, is more important for emotional well-being sometimes than choosing the lower calorie option. Enjoy your life, enjoy small moments, and savor your experiences.
As long as you live your life with balance, you can still benefit from your happy gut. And you know what they say, happy gut, happy You!